Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has told Coach magazine he does not have a “big rivalry” with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and instead there is a “big mutual respect” between the pair.
Ronaldo, 31, and Messi, 29, are considered two of the best players in the world and have consistently starred in La Liga in recent years, competing for rival clubs Real and Barca.
When asked which opponent he admires the most, Ronaldo said: “There is a big mutual respect between myself and Lionel Messi. The media like to make out like we have this big rivalry, but we don’t. It is not like we are good friends, but there is a mutual respect on both sides.”
Messi has scored 14 goals in 11 appearances for his club this season while Ronaldo has four goals in nine appearances for Los Blancos.
Ronaldo cited himself when asked who has been the key influence on his career while he was also quizzed on which teammate had been his biggest inspiration.
The Portugal international said: “My biggest inspiration has always been myself; nobody puts bigger demands on me than me.
“I said I admired Figo and Rui Costa, but I never wanted to emulate anybody — I have just always focused on being the best me I can.”
Ronaldo went on to discuss his most important lesson that football has taught him, adding: “To use negative people and experiences to motivate you. I actually need my haters — they have helped me achieve all I have achieved.”
Table-toppers Real are next in action at Alaves in La Liga on Saturday while reigning champions Barcelona host Granada.